Over a lifetime my visits to the Six Bells in Peterstone near Cardiff although regular have only been once in every ten years beginning at childhood through to impressing girlfriends with a run out to a country pub and finally over the last few decennial visits simply to check if the pub is still there. It was 10 years this Easter Bank Holiday Monday since my last visit, so away I went on a cycle ride through Marshfield on the wrong side of the tracks in a Peterstone direction fully expecting to find the pub closed for good. I always like to take a look at the great flood mark of 1607 or Britain’s only known tsunami on the church in Peterstone but unfortunately the church grounds and the foot path to the seawall alongside are both now closed. The pub itself is still open and a car was just pulling into the car park but with a mind made prejudiced by many reports of wholesale country pub closures I noticed that the Christmas decorations had been left up above the pub door and immediately concluded that the Six Bells would soon be ringing its last. It was only when I focused in on the pub sign with my camera phone for the blog that I suddenly realised what I thought were Christmas decorations were in fact six neon bells meaning someone was seriously working on rebooting the pub. Then I saw that the passengers in the car just pulled in were a family of three generations looking confident of a good Easter Monday lunch inside, finally I spotted that rich pastel eggshell paint applied to the pub exterior windows that for me is always an indicator of new investment.
Still not convinced and with seawall access denied at Peterstone, I cycled a little further east past the golf club to find a small lane leading down to a fabulous view of the Severn estuary where I came across a couple of ladies with real welsh accents who seemed to think that I was some sort of local guide but I was more than happy to help as they looked across to Penarth with questions such as “Whose church is that tower?”
Work to electrify the South Wales mainline has meant many bridges crossing the railway in Marshfield are currently closed so I followed all the cars back at the golf club along a country lane called Broadway to be assured of a way back across. As I approached the bridge I was reminded of a pub just on the other side next to the railway line that I have made even fewer visits to than the Six Bells and thought that I was bound to bag this one as part of the reported nationwide pub closure carnage – but no! The Port O Call as I knew it has now been given a new name “Y Maerun Pub & Dining” and with a spanking new paint job and tall glasses of chardonnay glistening in the sunshine of the new beer garden you could easily imagine yourself sat in the middle of somewhere like the Chatsworth Estate and not a former railway workers pub as was. Perversely I was now determined to find derelict and abandoned pubs to prove the press reports correct and I was surely guaranteed to find at least one if not three of the four pubs sitting almost next door to each other either side of Newport Road over in Old St Mellons. I was to be disappointed yet again [if you see what I mean] for the Coach House, the Bluebell Inn, the Poachers Arms and the Fox & Hounds were absolutely thriving and what with already having had a pint in the Bluebell many years ago I could happily make this my next choice for a Fourtharch weekend.
Old St Mellons folklore has it that the waters of the 1607 great flood lapped at the doors of the White Hart (now the Coach House) so I wonder if in 2017 electrification is now flooding the area with new investment. After all a more recent piece of folklore had it that house prices in Cardiff jumped a significant percentage the day the first 125 high speed train pulled into town – meanwhile I am beginning to wonder what else the press gets spectacularly wrong.